Staff Columnist

The Iowa GOP just used the pandemic to gut voting rights

And they did it while wearing masks that read 'the second amendment is my PPE'

Iowa Speaker of the House Pat Grassley (right) shakes hands with Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds after her Condition of the State
Iowa Speaker of the House Pat Grassley (right) shakes hands with Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds after her Condition of the State address at the Iowa Statehouse in Des Moines, Iowa, on Tuesday, Jan. 14, 2020. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette)

On June 5, Iowa State Sen. Jake Chapman, a Republican from Adel, posted a picture of himself on his Twitter feed with a mask over his face that read, “The Second Amendment is my PPE.” The mask has images of rifles and was posted with the caption, “Some of my colleagues on the other side of the aisle have been shaming Republicans for not wearing masks. I hope they feel more ‘comfortable’ today!”

Yet, Chapman, seems to be only a fierce defender of the part of the constitution that gives him guns. As for the rest of it, he and the Iowa GOP have no problem gutting the rights of Iowans. Late on Sunday, June 14, Chapman voted to restrict a woman’s right to access abortions, by voting in a 24-hour waiting ban and restricted access to voting by prohibiting the Secretary of State from sending out absentee ballot request forms and prohibiting auditors from using databases to fill in missing information from an absentee ballot request form.

It might seem like a small thing, but in 2017, the Iowa GOP tried this same thing and it got slapped down in the courts with Judge Karen Romano noting, that not allowing auditors to use the database was “irrational, illogical, and wholly unjustifiable.” She also called the law, “unreasonable, arbitrary, capricious, and an abuse of discretion.”

And by “constitutional right,” I presume he only means the right to eat an Awesome Blossom and shoot a gun. Because he certainly doesn’t mean actual voting or constitutionally protected health care for women.

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Apparently the judge’s language was too subtle, because here we are again. Another law to limit access to our right to vote and there will be another court challenge. There will be a court challenge to the 24-hour waiting period on abortions too and if precedent holds from other states, that unconstitutional law also will be struck down.

It’s a waste of time game that the Iowa GOP loves to play. Pass unconstitutional laws, get slapped down by the courts. Waste money defending those laws. And pass them all over again. It’s like they think if the pass the law enough that will somehow make it more legal. In reality, it’s just doubling down on idiocy.

The reasoning for the logic was “voter fraud.” But real voter fraud being perpetuated in this state, isn’t by Iowans trying to vote in a pandemic, it’s by our elected officials trying to stay in power. In 2018, Iowa Republicans refused to count mail-in ballots, which could have resulted in the loss of Republican Rep. Michael Bergen.

During the June 2, primary, Iowa had record voter turnout due to the Secretary of State and few county auditors sending out absentee ballot request forms, so Iowans wouldn’t have to go to the polls in a pandemic. Apparently, Iowans voting is scarier than Covid, because GOP lawmakers are working really hard to protect themselves from our ballots.

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On May 13, Chapman wrote on his Facebook page about Wisconsin’s stay-at-home order, “Sadly, we have seen in a number of states the unsatisfying appetite of power hungry politicians. This ruling should be a wake-up call to those individuals — pandemics are not a license to violate constitutional rights!”

And by “constitutional right,” I presume he only means the right to eat an Awesome Blossom and shoot a gun. Because he certainly doesn’t mean actual voting or constitutionally protected health care for women.

In fact, our Iowa-led GOP used the cover of the pandemic to vote to gut our rights, while wearing screen printed guns on their faces. Proving they don’t know the definition of “irony” or the actual Constitution.

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